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Lockdown at two O.C. jails to be lifted

September 21, 2007|Christopher Goffard | Times Staff Writer

After nearly a week of lockdowns stemming from gang violence, Orange County jails are expected to return to normal today, with inmates resuming their regular privileges, said Orange County sheriff's spokesman Damon Micalizzi.

Last Friday night, guards broke up an altercation between rival gang members at the Theo Lacy Facility in Orange, the county's most populous jail with 2,770 inmates, Micalizzi said. There are 6,600 inmates in county jails.

The fight left one inmate injured, though not seriously. Fearing further violence, officials within hours had confined inmates to their cells at Theo Lacy and at the Men's Central Jail in Santa Ana.

"These guys don't have a lot of privileges in jail," Micalizzi said.

"Anything we can take away from them generally keeps them in line," he added.

Early this week, the jails were beginning to relax restrictions, so that by Thursday inmates were permitted to shower and spend time in the commissary. But they were still barred from recreation in the day room. By today, Micalizzi said, "I expect things to be back to normal."

The injured inmate was treated and returned to the jail population, and no further incidents of violence were reported.

Micalizzi declined to discuss the identity of the warring gangs. "We don't want to add fuel to the fire," he said.

Orange County jails were locked down in 2004 because of tensions between rival gangs, and in 2006 after race riots erupted in Los Angeles jails.

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christopher.goffard @latimes.com

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